I HAVE a confession to make. I, Steve Davis, was once a member of the Labour Party. It feels good to have got that off my chest.

As much as it isn’t something I tend to shout about now, though, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to people. Growing up in a left-wing, working-class family in South East London, I developed a passion for social justice, an unshakeable faith in the trade union movement, an absolute belief that society should protect the most vulnerable and support those facing hard times and a determination to fight far-right extremism and bigotry whenever it reared its ugly head.

Back then the Labour Party not only seemed the obvious place for me – but the only place. It wasn’t even something you really thought about. You believed in those things and knew Labour did too, so you joined the Labour Party, or at the very least voted for your local Labour candidates. I was proud of my working class roots and proud to be a Labour supporter. For many of us, the two things went hand in hand.

That all changed when Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, and the rest of the New Labour clique dragged the party to the right of centre, began prioritising cosy relations with big business over fighting for the rights of working people, opened the NHS up to sneaking privatisation and took this country into an illegal war.

I, like many others, left the party. I still welcomed achievements like the national minimum wage, devolution, the Sure Start programme, repealing Section 28 and introducing civil partnerships, banning fox hunting, cancelling debt to some of the world’s poorest countries, and the undoubted progress made in the Northern Ireland peace process.

But it no longer felt like a party I had enough in common with to remain an active member. Despite a huge majority and a once-in-a-generation chance to push through sweeping and transformative left-wing policies, New Labour left much of the Thatcherite economic system driving inequality in the UK in place. I was, to all intents and purposes, politically homeless.

Why talk about this now? Well, I imagine how I felt back then is much the same as how the 23,000 people who have resigned their Labour Party membership since the start of this year feel now. Let down. Not sure they recognise the party they devoted so much time, energy, and passion to supporting. Not sure where to go now.

To lose 23,000 members in little more than two months should set alarm bells ringing at Keir Starmer’s HQ. It almost certainly won’t though. Numbers will be being crunched and as long as lurching to the right secures enough disgruntled Tory voters in key seats and enough donations from the pro-business lobby, shedding thousands of committed, progressive, left-wing voters and their monthly subscriptions will be considered a price worth paying. They won’t even be bothered by the 20 former Labour councillors in Lancashire who this week announced their resignations and will now sit as independents. It’s a path Labour has been treading since 2019, when it began haemorrhaging members from a peak of more than half a million.

Political commentators far more authoritative and knowledgeable than me suggest anger over Labour’s initial refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza has been central to the recent wave of thousands of resignations. Other important factors highlighted include the party’s back-tracking on its flagship green policy and a reluctance to commit to undoing many of the Conservative government’s most harmful policies, such as the two-child cap on child benefits – a cruel policy which, if scrapped would immediately lift around 270,000 households with children out of poverty.

I think we can all agree the incoming Labour government will be better than the outgoing Tory one, but is that enough? Shouldn’t people be able to expect more than maybe just being slightly better than an economically self-destructive government driven by an obsession with austerity? I think so. And presumably the thousands of people leaving the Labour Party agree.

But what can they do now they have resigned? Well, they can do what I did and join the Green Party. We’re a friendly bunch.

We also don’t compromise on our beliefs. We stand by our convictions. We called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. We won’t water down or abandon our commitment to green policies and tackling climate change. We will fight to protect the NHS. We believe everyone should have access to affordable and safe housing. And we will always stand up for the most vulnerable in our communities.

I can honestly say I have never felt more at home.

Cllr Steve Davis is leader of the Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council